Making a Lost Wages Claim
You're driving home after a long day at work, when BAM! The driver behind you carelessly crashes into your vehicle. Your car is totaled and you're unable to move your right leg. Due to your broken leg, you're forced to miss work for several weeks without pay. These unforeseen injuries and the resulting financial burden can be devastating.
If you have sustained injuries and missed work due to a car accident, you may be able to obtain compensation for the wages you lost. Read on to find out how to make a lost wages claim.
What Are Lost Wages?
In a car accident case, "lost wages" refers to the money you would have earned from your employer from the time of the accident to the date of settlement or judgment. Your injuries must have resulted from the car accident, and not from any other superseding events. You'll be able to recover the wages you would have earned had you not missed work while receiving medical treatment and recovering from your injuries.
Keep in mind, "lost earning capacity" and "lost compensation" may be considered separately as they are different types of damages. Lost earning capacity involves any disability that results in diminished capacity to work. Lost compensation, on the other hand, refers to not only lost wages, but also other financial benefits (e.g., pay bonuses and other perks of employment) that you would have earned if it wasn't for the accident.
How to Submit a Lost Wages Claim
Typically, you have the following options to recover your lost wages in a car accident case: (1) make a request to your insurance company or (2) to the other driver's insurance company, if he or she is at fault, or (3) file a lawsuit against the other driver in a serious case. It is highly recommended that you wait until you are near the end of your medical treatment and your condition is stable before filing a claim.
Before submitting a lost wages claim, you should know what's covered under the terms of the insurance policy. The damages you can recover will likely depend on the type of insurance coverage:
- Liability bodily injury coverage: If the other driver caused the accident, you will be able to submit a lost wages claim through that driver's liability bodily injury coverage.
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage: If a driver without an insurance caused the accident, you can collect lost wages through your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, if available.
- Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage: This applies to no-fault states. No matter who was at fault, you would be able to collect lost wages from your own insurance company up to the policy limit under PIP coverage.
Once you make a request to the insurance company, it will most likely require you to (1) take an independent medical examination and (2) submit medical documents and (3) an employment authorization form (to allow your employer to give information about your employment to the insurance company). Read these forms carefully because it will allow them to access your medical records and personal employment information.
When you are submitting a claim, make sure you include detailed and accurate statements about your lost wages. If any of the supporting documents are incomplete or inaccurate, your lost wages claim could be denied.
How to Prove Lost Wages
When you submit your claim, make sure to attach the following supporting documents as evidence:
- Doctor's Note: Before you can take time off from work, you must have sustained actual physical injuries. You will need a doctor's note or disability slip, which contains recommended time to take days off from work due to your injuries.
- Paystubs or Other Wage Documents: The most common and easiest way to prove lost wages is to submit your most recent paystubs before the injury as evidence. If they are not available, you can also submit W-2(s) or your tax return from last year. If you are self-employed, you can submit your tax return from last year or any documents, such as invoices or correspondence, to prove the amount of money you would have earned during the period of your recovery.
- Letter from Your Employer: In addition to paystubs, you will need to submit a letter from your employer to confirm important details. The letter should contain the days you were absent, your pay level, and the number of hours you work for each pay period.
Get Legal Help with Making a Lost Wages Claim
While simply submitting your recent paystubs can serve as evidence, it may not be sufficient to collect lost wages. Making a lost wages claim can involve complex legal issues regarding your medical condition. To get the compensation you deserve, consult with an experienced car accident attorney near you.
Contact a qualified auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.